Written by Jenni Chadick, Assistant Director of Residence Life
Today marks the end of Earth Week at Puget Sound, a week of programming and awareness around sustainability initiatives at Puget Sound. This, along with our recent naming as one of 322 “Green Colleges” (according to the Princeton Review) provides a great opportunity to share our top five strategies in Residence Life to make our living facilities more earth friendly.
5) the Live Green Challenge
Started in 2009, and revamped in 2012, the Live Green Challenge is an inter-hall competition to increase the amount of recycling and reduce the amount of trash produced by each residential community. The Residence Hall Association (RHA) tracks the amount of recycling collected each week, and compares this to a benchmark calculated the month prior. Whichever hall increases their amount of recycling wins! Aimed to educating students on sustainability on campus, this program is a great introduction for new students to the way to recycle at Puget Sound, and in Tacoma. This year’s winning team: Sewlangster – the portmanteau for Seward, Langlow, and Regester halls.
4) the Live Green House
As part of both an institutional and residential commitment to sustainability, the Live Green House is a LEED Gold housing option for five lucky students. The house, a complete retrofit of an older home owned by the university, was completed in 2008. Some features include: 100% recycled particle board cabinetry, 55% recycled flooring, 50% post consumer recycled paint on all walls, solar power panels, ultra high efficiency HVAC system with no ozone-depleting refrigerants, Energy Star-rated appliances, low flow toilets and shower heads, a compost bin, and rain barrels to collect water for irrigation. The residents of the Live Green House are supported and encouraged to participate in various campus initiatives around sustainability, and in 2011 the residents of the Live Green House purchased a composter that can be utilized by any residents living in the 50+ campus houses.
3) Operation SAVE
In partnership with our Community Involvement and Action Center (CIAC) Operation SAVE (Sharing Abundance through Volunteer Efforts) Residence Life has helped students donate gently used items to community organizations during move out. Students often have too many items to pack, bring home, or utilize over the summer that those in the community can benefit from. For over 15 years this program has provided students a way to get rid of their stuff in a convenient way that benefits the community, AND diverts items from the waste stream. Prior to its inception, many students would simply throw away the clothes, small electronics, mirrors, or lamps they could not haul away. Donating items to be reused is an area of sustainability Residence Life cares deeply about, and is an often overlooked area of the “recycling” brand. Our students have been generous with this program, and in 2012 over 600 60-lb bags of items were donated to charity.
Okay, okay, this isn’t really a Residence Life program – but it is our biggest partner on all things green! We partner with Sustainability Services on campus for many initiatives, outside of the recycling that happens in the residence halls and houses. Sustainability Services is led by Travis Friedman, an alum of Puget Sound whose passion for sustainability started in facilities and has never left. Travis leads an excellent team of dedicated and energetic students who empty all the recycling bins on campus. ALL of them. ALL students. Sustainability Services provides several services on campus, and has helped Residence Life decrease our carbon footprint drastically. Especially when it comes to move in and move out. During fall move in 2012, Sustainability Services recycled:
- 5.5 Tons of cardboard (or 27 and a half grizzly Bears)
- 1.96 tons of co-mingled recycling ( or 9.8 grizzly Bears)
- 155 lbs of Styrofoam (or half a grizzly)
During new student move in along:
- 2.59 tons of cardboard (13 Grizzly Bears or 74 Fiberglass bathtubs)
- 1 Ton of co-mingled recycling (5 Grizzly Bears or 28 and a half Fiberglass Bathtubs)
- 120 lbs of Styrofoam (less than half a grizzly)
That’s a huge amount diverted from the waste stream toward recycling, and all thanks to this great team!
1) the Green Advocate Program
The Green Advocate program was initiated in 2010, and is the number one connection each residence hall has to sustainability on campus. Each Residence Hall Association (RHA) has a Green Advocate elected in September to represent that community, and advocate for sustainability measures in the community. Green Advocates can sit on the campus wide Sustainability Advisory Committee, join the student club Students for a Sustainable Campus, or advocate for items like more recycling bins in the hall or water bottle filling stations. The GAs help communicate to residents what’s going on around campus, and communicate with campus advocates the needs of students living on campus. This program is spearheaded by the Resident Student Association (RSA), and the Director of Sustainability. This program helps to promote all the initiatives listed above, and has been instrumental in getting students who are passionate about sustainability plugged into the institutional ways of making an impact.
Interested in learning more about the Green Advocate program? Feel free to contact me, the RSA Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you learned more about what we are doing in Residence Life to make Puget Sound a greener place for all our community! Still want to read more about Sustainability at Puget Sound? Check out the Sustainability blog here.